Out There vs In Here

At work I am asked quite often if I’m on Facebook. Co-workers and even a few customers I’ve become friendly with have asked to friend me. My answer is always the same, “Yes I’m on Facebook but I’m only FB friends with people I cannot see in person easily.” Most accept this and understand when I elaborate for me FB is where I get to hang with the dear ones that geography makes imposs to see in the flesh. Which is most certainly true, but it’s not the whole story. Not by a long shot.

I have exactly ONE work friend I see in what I call my ‘real life’. Dar is an empathic, touch healing, Bugs Bunny and Augie Doggie quoting, kids 13 years apart soul sister. The first time our eyes met we knew we were kin. I ‘saw’ her and she ‘saw’ me and our friendship was cemented before we’d learned each other’s last names. We’re so connected we’re not even spooked by how much our lives run parallel. That’s simply how it is when you meet a member of your tribe.

As for the other great folk at work? I like them. A lot. But they live in the part of my life where I wear an ugly shirt and a name tag. This doesn’t mean I care less for them than I do my other friends, only that there’s a necessary boundary. Necessary for my comfort and to feel safe. Y’all get how vital feeling safe is for me. I don’t care to invest the energy or open my backstory enough to share with my co-workers. Nor do I care to have their business all up in mine when I’m off the clock. Took a long time for me to get the confidence to compartmentalize my life. Doormats feel like they owe everyone everything. Feh. So saying, “No” was/is an act of courage.

Besides I mean what I say, my online life is (to make a dated pun)…MYspace.

I’m rolling up on almost two decades of having a pixel life. I found out later that Alex hated it, but Sebastian knows no other way and to him my online circle is simply a bunch of aunts, uncles, and cousins he doesn’t get to see at holidays. Your names are as familiar as his actual blood rellies and he likes you quite a bit more. He’s pleased and proud when you “ooo!” and “ahh!” over his pics and milestones. I probably overshared in the beginning (hence the Alex hate) but Sebastian is a true Millennial and posts pics of himself pumping gas into his truck and what he’s having for breakfast, sharing himself online is his normal.

I, on the other hand, have curated my virtual life. At least once I was finished barfing up all the hateful dirty emotional water I was drowning in. Oy, my old journal was rough. From 2001 to 2007 reading my diary was to risk emotional flash burns. Taylor Negron had a routine involving going out for pie and the waitress unloading a big upchuck of her personal problems before taking his order and his response was, “Ow! That left an emotional skidmark! All I wanted was something lemony.”

Reading my D-Land diary was like that. Come for meringue, leave with scorch marks.

Anyway, the main gist of this post is to define how I’m doing this blog and FB these days. I’ve gotten more than a few snarky jabs at how little I comment on the news since the election. Intellectually I understand I don’t owe any justifications but it hurts anyhow. To be thought a slacker and a do-nothing really, really smarts. Not the shit from haters but the snark and pointed remarks from friends has finally driven me to say something.

#1- I live in New York. A state that went solidly for Hillary. My senators are both Democrats and are the sponsors and/or loud supporters of all things decent and humane in the Senate right now. Schumer and Gillibrand are awesome. My Congressional representative is Sean Patrick Mahoney. An openly gay lawyer who’s an adoptive parent to three children. Randy Florke, Sean’s husband, is someone I’ve met several times during my more active days as a clean water advocate. Randy and Sean are both great dads and genuinely nice guys. I send my rep and senators regular mail both snail and electronic. I contribute to their campaigns. My state’s governor, Andrew Cuomo, is also a Democrat. He’s the son of Mario Cuomo, another Democrat. I live in a sanctuary state and one of the first to reject Trump’s dopey withdrawal and independently re-upped with the Paris Climate Agreement. What, exactly, should I be excoriating my elected reps for? They, and I, are doing the Right Things.

#2- My FB friends list is really, really short. 62, as a matter of fact, and 5 of those people are dead. (I cannot bear to delete them.) My FB friends are truly friends. My gang, posse, tribe. Should I be near enough in geographical space I could call any one of them and we’d be hugging in no time. Grabbing a coffee, sharing a meal, and in most cases being tucked up in their guest room or on the couch in the den without a qualm and zero weirdness over making the transition from pixel to physical. Except maybe to marvel how great it was to actually hear their voice in person. (I’ve been told many times when making the leap from screen to flesh that I sound EXACTLY like I write. It’s true. My New Yawk accent isn’t as juicy as Bugs Bunny’s but I sure as hell wouldn’t ever be mistaken for a Minnesotan or a southerner.) Anyhoodle, those 50+ dear ones sprinkled around the globe are real friends and as such we share most of the same values and concerns. Posting news, especially about the political outrages, is to be preaching to the choir. We ALL care about the same things from mostly the same perspective. The people I love are doing their bit as am I. It’s not that I am ignoring the larger sphere, only that I feel it’s unnecessary to harp on it. In my tiny and very, very personal corner of FB it’s about the individual accomplishments and troubles. Book reviews, birthdays, soliciting sponsors for charity 5Ks and silent auctions. It’s about wedding anniversaries and backyard garden harvests. It’s pics of the grandkids and my friends’ latest work-in-progress.

So no. I do NOT feel compelled to hector, chide, shout, and rage all the damn time. In fact I’d appreciate it if the twitting and snarky shit toward me stopped on my FB feed. I understand the frustration and sorrow, believe me, the world’s shitstorm hurts me too. I do not forget injustice as I drive my unremarkable momsy crossover late-model Rogue with my white middle-aged female self to my union protected job at the regularly Health Department inspected grocery store. Nor do I fail to appreciate my little grandma house with its working heat/central air and its clean well water and wholly functioning appliances. I understand that not all mothers have reasonable assurance their sons will come out of a traffic stop alive. I work and write and vote and even intervene where I can to ensure the safety of ALL the sons. And the daughters.

You never have to remind me. For all of my life’s sorrows I never, ever, ever forget how good I have it. And I never stop learning and growing so my eye becomes ever more inclusive and sees where I can be of use. Until the day you can honestly say I am an uncaring, know-nothing noogie….

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Thanks. Needed to get this off my chest. ~LA

 

Hash

I made corned beef hash once from scratch. Mick went bonkers over it and declared there was none better. Yet when I make boiled Irish he refuses to leave enough corned beef for me to make hash again. He insists that the boiled dinner is simply too yummy to stop short of a groaning distended bellyful. There’s some kind of life lesson in there about the wisdom of putting off present pleasure for later joy or some such but frankly I can’t be bothered to suss it out.

‘Hash House’ is the name of Kiki Kavanaugh’s theater in Judith Krantz’s ‘Princess Daisy’. A book I’ve read at least a couple dozen times. I do not scorn ‘chick lit’ and romance novels pro forma as a feminist. In fact I loathe the pink ghetto of ‘chick lit’ and ‘chick flicks’. Why is escapist fantasy gendered anyhow? But it is. Boy howdy, it is. And if we are to adhere to the gendered tropes, why are male fantasies (suave spies, heroes of every stripe from incorruptible Old West sheriffs to loveable rogues to Terminator-esque vigilantes), why are they okay if women’s are not? Why is a Xena or Cinderella or Hermione Granger or Princess Daisy such a smirk-worthy, disrespected object of mirth? Without the steady profits from romance series and cozies most print publishing houses would be dead broke within months. That ‘laughable’ chick lit and those ‘too cute’ cozy mystery stories are what keep print companies in the black! And yet only the books about and by men get respect and the goddamn front table at B&N. Gah!

Hashish isn’t wholly unknown to me, but it’s not a beloved favorite either. In the late 70s weed was so ubiquitous that it was never necessary to hunt down a high. And truly when I smoke(d) it wasn’t about how high I could get or the so-called ‘purity’ of the high. Weed is for relaxing. It’s to feel hungry enough to eat when my self-loathing and my various eating disorders are bullying me to starve and feel virtuous about it. Weed is to prompt the creativity and the libido. So hash was never a biggie. Expensive. Complicated. Bleh. I do not care for either of those. Plus the idea of getting too high is scary to me. To be wrecked beyond my ability to control the situation is stupid. It invites all manner of insults and encroachments. Unlike Blanche DuBois, I never want to depend on the kindness of strangers. At least not when I’m vulnerable. So, hash? Nah.

Hashtags. For one thing this # is a pound sign. Its purpose is to close a series of numbers when dealing with telephone octopuses. “Please enter your 85 digit serial number followed by the pound sign.” Also I don’t tweet. I’ve signed up for Twitter twice and lost interest before the first hour both times. I don’t mind brevity, I appreciate the concise. It’s the stinking IMMEDIACY of Twitter. “Pay attention! Right now! Notify 1,598 of your closest friends about this NOW!” What? Really? I’d like to think on this, and check sources, and anyhow I’ve ‘spoken’ to everybody I’m electronically connected with already today. Can this keep until tomorrow? “NO! RETWEET THIS NOW GODDAMNIT! IT’S FUCKING IMPORTANT!”  This is what Twitter feels like to me. It’s a gun pressed to my temple. I hate it.

Definition 2 for ‘hash’ in Merriam-Webster is: to talk about :  review —often used with over or out hash over a problem hashing out their differences. This is my favorite. Very few things satisfy me as much as consensus. Which is not the same as capitulating or total agreement. Consensus means all the angles and all the possibilities have been looked at and extrapolated out to logical conclusions. Then a course of action is agreed upon. It might not be exactly anyone’s perfect solution but it’s the one that makes the most sense and does the most good (or least harm) for pretty much everyone involved. And to reach a consensus there must be a hashing out. Yes, there must be thrashing about. Yes, there must be odd sidebars and tangents. Yes, sharp blades and high heat are involved. But eventually everything is diced enough, enough potatoes and onions and spices and butter are put in, and then all the things are pressed down together against the heat and the end result is delicious. It’s crusty and tender and spicy and chewy and fucking satisfying. Because it’s hash. Nobody gets the whole thing but everybody gets something. And together it makes more than its disparate parts, and more than it had been before all the dicing and slicing and mixing and heat.

I like that. I like it a lot.

hash

 

Much love from your hungry friend, ~LA

June

I used to have a friend named June. It’s a nickname. Her birthday is in February and her actual name is Mayumi. ‘June’ isn’t an Anglicized thing either. She got her handle from following her dad around on his rounds as a caretaker/carpenter- it’s the career he took on after retiring from the Army. Wee Mayumi would tote a hammer or carry a paper bag of nails or wrestle with an air filter almost larger than she was and trot along in his wake. Where her dad was Mayumi was too. So much so that people started calling her ‘Junior’. Eventually ‘Junior’ became ‘Junie’ then ‘June’. A name she adopted full-time after her father passed on. Not dismissing her Japanese heritage so much as hanging onto her beloved Anglo father.

She and I didn’t have a huge blow-up, btw. My friend June was a reason or season friend, I haven’t decided which.

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I’m sure if I tracked her down she’d be glad to hear from me. We’d have a burst of emails and then drift apart again. And that’s okay. Like marriages, sometimes friendships have a set duration.

Recently at the Danbury Fair Mall I shared an elevator with a Little Person. I don’t know which type of dwarfism she has nor is it relevant except to say she was tiny. So small I mistook her dash to catch the elevator as the heedless sprint of a runaway baby and instinctively hit the ‘hold door’ button and put my hands out to catch her. (It’s a mom thing.) Making the transition from seeing a runaway baby to a grown-ass woman was quick, thank goodness. So instead of asking her where Mommy was I asked if this was her usual mall and if so could she direct me to the Lush store? (#1 on my hit list and frankly only reason for trekking to Danbury, Connecticut.) She obliged readily. The Lush store was exactly where she said it was and I waved and said thanks before hustling off to bath product nirvana.

Later that night I thought about that brief conversation. Lord knows I’ve complained often enough about my size. And I am. I am taller, larger around, have far bigger boobs, and totally non-dainty feet.  However because all my bits are proportionate with the others I am not so far outside the usual as to cause stares and polite discomfort. I’m just BIG.

The woman in the elevator had no such leeway and grace space. Navigating, hell, just being in this world is rough for her because things are sized for the average person. But being tiny is also her normal. And that’s the key. The element that most people overlook. Especially the people who are trying to be decent and correct and nice. If you are small or you are big, your own perspective is always the way the world looks to you. My ‘normal’ is tilting my head down. A little, a lot, whatever. 95% of the folk I interact with are shorter than I am. I tilt my head, I reach things down, most of the time the size differential is no big. Nor is it to my elevator acquaintance. Looking UP is her normal. Pity is ridiculous.

Take it this way. “Oh, poor you, needing oxygen to process glucose, and needing Vitamin D from sunlight!”

Dumb, right? ‘Normal’ is relative.

That’s all I have.

 

Your dopey friend, ~LA

It Don’t Come Easy

I’ve given myself an hour. Sebastian is expected home a few minutes after my deadline  and Mick a quarter hour after that. So an hour is what I have. The title of this entry is a quote from my favorite Beatle, Ringo. Why Ringo? He’s not especially talented nor does he excel at craft (he’s the ONLY drummer in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame who can’t do a drumroll) but Ringo has two things- gratitude and an easy breezy way with the public and the press. A mindset and a skill I find wholly relatable.

 

 

‘If you’re big enough to take it.’

It’s been rough lately. Money is tight. Family (the ex, MIL, SIL, absent child) are lobbing grenades. My trip overseas is delayed and uncertain for the most harrowing of reasons. (Am I even going? Doubtful. And British Airways crazily wants to keep ALL of the ticket purchase.) “Why, of course, BA, I’m delighted to DONATE $1,378 to you for transportation I won’t use! It’s not like I could pay bills with that money! Or do anything else with it! You just go ahead and keep 5 months’ of paychecks, a mighty corporation like you can certainly use the dough more than an hourly numb-nuts like me can!”

Fuck you, British Airways. Fuck you for keeping my money and for not understanding that sometimes Life has its own agenda. I’m certain my friend who was going to give me a bed is far more concerned about your quarterly profits than her firstborn dying. Ye gods.

Work? What a joy. Hours are cut. My boss has gone whack-a-doo again and makes my workday a tottering anxiety fest. And now that we’re coming up on the hot months every goddamn order has 3+ cases of WATER. “Yo! You have been suckered! You do NOT need to purchase bottled water! The shit you buy is the SAME exact water that comes out of your TAP!”

For real.

Stop being Coca-Cola’s dupe. Stop spending your extremely hard-earned coin on bottled water. Get a reusable bottle (ie: a grown-up’s sippy cup) and fill that thing from your TAP. For real. It’s the same damn water only it’s free.

Would I lie to you? Or steer you wrong? No. If you were in danger from pollutants or whatever, I’d tell you. Use your tap water, my friends. It’s all good. Unless you’re in Flint.

Recently I’ve had people on the sales floor tell me they’d use our service but they didn’t want to ‘get stuck with BAD FOOD’. I was appalled. These misguided people would elaborate about how we’d pass off cold cuts, meats, and produce that were about to expire and/or covered in bruises and brown spots.

REALLY????

Shop From Home isn’t the drive-thru at McD’s, you knuckleheads, our service is all about having repeat customers. It’s about bringing our clients THE BEST our store has to offer. I’ve assured dozens of inquisitive potential customers that my clients get far better produce and meat than my family does. Stone truth.

Lyme, Lyme, Lyme…

Yes, I am battling my way out of Lyme round 4 (5?). In any case I am tired and frustrated. Sebastian is doing great. His course of antibiotics passed swiftly and without major side-effects. Me? Not so much. Every joint in my body is aching and I’m am honestly exhausted. Better me than my kid, but fuck Lyme in all its incarnations.

This is where I’m at. Along with a bacterial infection that leads to chronic illness I’ve had to push back against the black dog. Another happy by-product of Lyme. Right now I feel like THE worst mother, friend, wife EVER. I feel like no one could ever love me because I’ve been so absent.

I haven’t been there enough for anyone.

Sorry.

Your inadequate pal, ~LA

 

 

Reunion

As many of many of you know today was the lunch date with my sister. We hadn’t seen each other in 24 years. Basically, half our lives, almost the entirety of our adult lives. Actually now that I think on it I missed a big chunk of her teenage years too, but that’s a different thing. The sister I thought of when I thought of her (which was as seldom as possible) was the impeccably groomed young matron with the impeccably groomed children and the spotless apartment, and the surly dickhead husband whose smirky face I ached to whack flat with a cast iron frying pan. I wanted to do this long before he married my little sister, btw. Once upon a time her future husband was part of a gang of high school cool dudes, way out of my league cool dudes, who’d miraculously shown up at my 15th birthday party toting gifts (board games, mittens, drugstore cologne and dusting powder sets), 6-packs of beer, and discretely smoked bomber joints, and Surly punched my birthday cake. Just drove a big old fist hole into it for no other reason than the joy of doing something obnoxious and absurdly mean. For the record- Surly is dead, and has been for 10 years and I am not the least bit sorry.

Anyway, the sister in my mind’s eye was that one from our 20s, the younger version of our mother- snobbish, stupid, scornful, and possessed of some dark magic which enabled them to reduce me to frustrated, humiliated, bitter tears with a few choice barbs and a titter of the most humorless mocking laughter outside of cartoon movie villainesses. Tack onto that a lifetime of resentment over the absurd favoritism showered upon my little sister by every goddamn relative on any and every side and configuration of family and you don’t have to wonder why I had a wicked case of anxiety diarrhea ever since she showed up three days ago via FB messenger.

Why arrange a lunch then? Why see her at all if she made me so umruik? Hadn’t I just spent the past decade clearing my life of unhappiness and tsoris? Was I meshugeh? * (For the Yiddish impaired- anxious, trouble/hassle, crazy.) Why? Why do lemmings go off cliffs into the sea? Why do perms come back into style every 20 years? Why do people watch Uwe Boll movies? Sometimes you’re just driven to do something painful and stupid.

So. I set up a lunch date at my favorite diner. My ‘Cheers’ if you will, a place where not everybody knows my name but without me having to ask they do bring my coffee with a wee pitcher of real milk and not those horrible little creamer thingies. Safely on my turf, you dig? Yesterday between emergency trips to the toilet I stimmed, begged for reassurance from friends, and I planned my outfit. Mick, once he got over his amazement about the way his usually preternaturally chill wife was flapping her hands and literally spinning in circles, was a brick. He listened, he soothed, he petted my head until I could be still. Along with possible versions of The Outfit I totted up all the ways my life was good nowadays. Elder son estranged but could still account for his solidly successful life- wife, friends, good business, real estate, no cavities. Younger son is GREAT! Getting educated, he’s employed, no drugs/booze/bad credit. He doesn’t have any cavities either. Nor traffic tickets. He and I go to the movies together once a month and enjoy all kinds of geeky cinephile trivia. I like my job and can honestly say there’s not a single person there who thinks ill of me. I’m proud of my burgeoning bee haven. And friends! On every single continent in the whole world except Antarctica but I have a couple friends who’ve been there so it totally counts. Mick? What wasn’t there to say about that besotted Irishman of mine? My adorable and adoring husband who makes me laugh and makes me feel safe and who tells me every single day by word and deed how much he loves me? Fuh. I had a lock on this.

gingham scarf

To top it off I woke to a day this morning where the weather broke my way and I could wear my version of armor- a soft swingy cotton black sweater, black leggings, and tall black boots. Topped with a B&W gingham scarf, my favorite chunky hoop earrings, hematite beads on one wrist and my loaded Pandora on the other. Add to that a recent spiky haircut and my new specs- Ray-Ban Clubmasters – favored eyeglasses of such varied folk as Col Sanders, Lewis Skolnick, and Malcolm X.

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I was ready.

Well? What the hell happened? Come on , LA! After a build up like that…jeeze!

What happened was I got there first. Secured a quiet booth. Accepted the coffee with real milk brought by the waitress and nicely warned her that either this was going to be a quick turnover or an absurdly long rental of a good table during her busiest hours. She held up “No problem” hands and left.

After what felt like half an eternity but in real time was 7 minutes I saw my sister. She looked but didn’t see me so I had to raise my voice and wave. She rushed over, bent and gave me a long grippy hug, which I returned. Then she sat on her side of the booth and the assessment began. I’d forgotten how dark and olive her skin was. And that she’d had her front teeth bonded a long, long time ago obliterating the family diastema. But her eyes! I knew those eyes. They were also my eyes. The deep green, slanted cat’s eyes every single person on our Da’s side had. Brown skin, olive, pink like me. We have gapped front teeth and those amazing green eyes. I looked at my/her eyes staring out from that distantly familiar yet stranger’s face. Then I widened my focus to take in the whole woman across from me and suddenly- like a switch being flipped- I wasn’t afraid anymore.

Was she different? Yeah, some. A lot, actually. Not so much physically, but emotionally. Her choices had led her down a path far tougher than mine had been. And her happiness and contentment were still up for grabs.

I’m not judging, just noticing. For reals.

We talked. Honestly, she did 85% of the talking. I listened, asked questions, and injected the occasional anecdote about my life. Occasionally I’d bump into one of those places- something she said or some remark of mine that fell flat for lack of understanding or context, but some thing that formerly would have made me cringe and bleed.

Not today! Nor do I think ever again.

Why? Because I am loved. Finally. Fully. Unconditionally. Mick, at the foremost. Sebastian, my startlingly successful ‘problem child’. But also you guys. My tribe. My real family. Not accidents of DNA, no, we belong together because we get it and each other. Readers, naturalists, artists, writers, hippies, philosophers, explorers, science pioneers, fantasy geeks, farmers, cos-players, librarians, lefties, dog rescuers, cat lovers, spoonies, grammar nerds, travelers, all the folk who’ve ever felt ‘other-ed’ for believing in kindness, decency, and the necessity of showing up to do Good Things.

You are my people. During that long time when I’d done without biological family because I simply couldn’t deal with the way they mashed my face into my ‘otherness’ anymore and rejected who I was because why? I somehow made them feel dumb? Shallow? Scared? Whatever. I absented myself and found you.

So, no. My sister didn’t scare me today. Nor intimidate me or make me feel like Lee-Lee the Weirdo.

Will I see her again? Yeah. But not often nor with any obligation. I did find out she has the family photographs and I’d really like to get some of them. As it is aside from three measly pictures you’d think I sprang forth fully grown there’s so little evidence I existed before my 18th birthday. She doesn’t know what happened to most of my portfolios or clippings. More’s the pity, I bet you guys would get some good giggles off me in my snazzy 70s duds posing as Fun Girl! Or me as the enthusiastic eater of pudding and soup. As it is…

1970s-crochet-kids

 

Free at last! ~LA

 

I Finally Get To GO!

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Only 54 years. It only took 54 years for the circumstance of my life to align so I finally, finally get to go. I’m not blaming anyone (except myself) but let’s just say the people in my life, mostly those I married and those I manufactured in my uterus, made things hella tough to put my traveling hat on and beat feet down the holiday highway. I could tally up all the dumbass sacrifice, all the ways I prioritized everyone and everything else first, but that’s all behind me now because…I AM FINALLY GOING!!!!

Where? England, possibly with an overnight (or two!) in Paris.

When? July.

How long? 9 or 10 days depending on when the best deal for my flights are.

Who’s going? This is the best part…just me.

ME! MY time! MY priorities! MY schedule! Mine! Allllllll mine!

Do I sound like a jerk? A selfish twat? Good. Because I can tell you exactly when the last time I had more than a few hours to myself was – Aug 12-13, 1994. I went to Seaside on the bus. Aside from a sleep in my damp somewhat musty motel room I spent that 37 hours on the beach sunning and thinking and being at ease. Okay, there was also that one Christmas right after the ex and I split up that he took the kids and went to Texas with them just to be a dick, but being abandoned on Christmas just for spite is hardly happy jolly stuff, you know? And anyway I still had to care for the pets and the house and field phone calls from Mike’s clients. Whee.

This adventure though is all kinds of wonderful. And it’s not entirely a solo gig. I am going to visit my friend, Anna, and enjoy her hospitality until she’s more than ready to boot my ass back to America to have her life and her sofa back.

When you tell people you’re taking a trip their most common response is to ask what you plan to DO. And here’s the funny part, I don’t know. I have a list but not a plan. Obviously as it gets closer to time Anna and I will cobble together a rough idea of what and where, especially if there are things requiring reservations and/or pre-payment, but mostly I just want to be with my friend and walk and talk. Some years ago she spent five days here and we never even made it out of the yard.

For certain there are things I want to see but the idea of some kind of frantic rabbit race bloody itinerary where all we do is rush from thing to thing so’s not to ‘waste’ my time over there…yuck. Not for me, thanks. But this doesn’t mean I’m one of those ‘off the beaten path, hang with the natives’ snobs who’s too cool for typical sightseeing and guided tours. Far from it, in fact most of the stuff I’d like to take in is really tacky and I’m not embarrassed about that. I’ve led dozens of friends and relatives around the schlockiest, most touristy parts of NYC and never minded a bit. Top of the Empire State building? Sure. Rockefeller Center? No prob. Time’s Square? Step right over here. Barneys, Macys, Saks 5th Ave, Bloomingdales? You want to stand outside the ‘Today Show’ window? See ‘Phantom’ or ‘Cats’? Hey, I’m your girl. I totally understand.

So to that end here’s a list. A by-no-means complete or prioritized list of …

Stuff I’d Like To See Or Do In England.

Buckingham Palace. Not a tour or anything fancy, I’d just like to see it from the outside. With the Victoria Memorial, please.

Lunch at a pub. Actually there’s several things about pubs- cool pub signs with terrific names like ‘The Buttered Bum’ or ‘Alfie’s Poodle’, watching a darts game in person or a footie match on TV with a partisan cheering crowd, petting the pub dog or cat, buying a round and (briefly) listening to bullshit stories from the old coots, trying a shandy. No Guinness, thanks, I don’t care for dark beer.

Beach huts. Stone strands. Stripey canvas chairs. Brighton Pier. Donkey rides. And whatever the hell a knickerbocker glory is. Luckily Anna lives near-ish the sea. She used to be closer but has moved somewhere a bit more conventional but whatever, she’ll be a grand tour guide to all things about the British seaside and its amusements. I plan on spending LOTS of time in Brighton and having Anna show me the weirdness and artsy joy.

English gardens. In mid-July I expect England to turn out a spectacular floral face. Window boxes, allotments full of veg, hedgerows, tumbles and masses of flowers, sweeping meadows, neatly almost fanatically clipped public gardens. Bring it, England. Wow me with your botanical excess.

High tea. I’d like to go somewhere swank and have one of those fancy teas with little crust-less sandwiches and scones with jam and clotted cream. Tea in a silver or china pot. Wee decorated pastries. All doled out by an obsequious server on a starched linen-clad table so posh I feel awkward without pearls, a boarding school accent, and a really ugly hat.

London things. A ride in a black taxi cab. Another ride, this one on a double-decker bus. The Gherkin. King’s Cross and Platform 9 3/4. The Shard. The Millennial Bridge. Big Ben. Parliament. Tower Bridge. Piccadilly Circus. Hyde Park. Nelson’s Column. Trafalgar Square and Charing Cross- I know almost all the bookstores are gone but I’d like to see it anyhow. Dorkiest of all I’d like to get a picture on the Abbey Road crosswalk.

Beatles_-_Abbey_Road

In a perfect world I’d like to go north and visit Si, Tracey, and the kids. And Lisa and Martin in Crewe. And Lou Stonehill and have a good cry, raise a glass, or both about our beloved Sarah. North again to Liverpool and a trip to The Cavern Club. And Sheffield to get some kitchen knives bought from the source. Northward still and see Liza and Bert in Glasgow. And while in Scotland do a bunch of Harry Potter fangirl stuff. But there’s only so much time and money. To day nothing of trying to ship/carry KNIVES back to The States.

I’m back and forth about doing the paid tour at Highclere Castle. Is it better to leave ‘Downton Abbey’ as it is? A PBS dream? Or visit the real thing and forever after have the tactile, full daylight knowledge but lose the illusion of the Crawley family and their staff as they are on screen? I tend toward the latter.

LA, what about museums? What about Shakespeare? Kings? Queens? The Magna (fricken) Carta? What about Hampton Court and the Elgin Marbles?

Feh.

Look, scholarly knowledge is good. So is understanding and preserving history. It’s important. But I am just a chick on a trip. Trust me, with everything I’ve done with and for my kids I’ve given tithe to the future and then some. Enough for me and every single person I share DNA with. For now I am completely entitled to a trip to see my friend and check out a bunch of things I’ve only seen in movies and read about in books. Things that might (probably) not exist anymore.

This is a real place.

Green Knowe house

I was 8 when my grandmother gave me three of the six ‘Green Knowe’ books. I’ve since gotten all of them in several different editions. But, again, like Highclere, seeing the actual place will definitely change the magic of the place in my mind. Do I risk it or is my time better spent on a bench overlooking the sea drinking bad coffee from a paper cup having a hilarious enlightening soul-satisfying convo with my friend?

See how it goes?

And on subjects not quite so weighty but almost equally valid…what of the weather? Rain isn’t enough to stop me entirely but it definitely puts a crimp in days planned to spend outdoors. If I set a horribly inflexible schedule there I’d be standing in some miserable queue getting soaked and then trudging around ‘not wasting’ my visit but chilled to the bone picking my sodden underpants out of my ass crack and enjoying/learning NOTHING. Better I spent the afternoon in a used book shop or tucked up on Anna’s couch with a cuppa and no guilt whatsoever.

Most of the stuff I’d like to do on my trip is sensory rather than concrete. Anecdotal than actual.

For instance I’d be delighted when faced with my outsized enthusiasm a couple of Brits elbowed each other, rolled their eyes, and smirked, “American.” With all the patronizing attitude allowed by law.

I want someone in a market stall to call me ‘Ducks’, as in “Whot’s yours then, ducks?”

I want curry. I don’t know if I will even like curry, but I want it.

I DO know I like fish and chips. And I am very much looking forward to having the real deal.

I want a full English breakfast. Beans on toast sounds disgusting, as does blood pudding, but isn’t that the point? To be challenged and amazed to like something unexpected?

Spotted DICK? Bwahahaha! Okay, sure.

Honestly? England you can keep your mushy peas. Been there. Done that. Not interested in trying again.

Nando’s? Yes, please. I am always up for fried chicken.

Harrods? Perhaps for tea, but mostly for the novelty of going to a department store which refuses entry if you’re not dressed nicely enough. No jeans. Ever. Plus Alex’s ‘diaper bag’ was actually a tote bag from Harrods. A gift from the ex-MIL on one of her many, many travels. Replacing that tote would be nice after all these years.

 

Look. I learned about England the same way most of the world learns about the USA, most especially about New York, from books and movies. Sometimes TV shows. So what I want to see and what I’d like to experience in England this summer is based on media. Books, TV, movies. My actual wants are few, perhaps even spurious, desires fostered by an author’s idea of England.

First and foremost that after so many starved and promise-broken years…I get to go!

YAY!!!!!!!!!!

 

Much love, ~LA

 

No Guarantees

Here I am after several weeks of being in the dumps – some about my deteriorating health, some financial, but mostly just the state of the nation and the world. The Germans with their love of jamming all the words together to make one huge word would call my angsty gloom…panicshamefurydisgustwearysorrowloathing. And they’d be correct.

I thought and thought about what I could do. What I could REALLY do. Besides my standard barrage of mail, which I did slack off on for a week or so because I got that hopeless about everything but took up again and became a regular contributor to Senator Gillibrand’s reelection fund too. I don’t worry about Chuck Schumer, the guy has his face in front of every and any camera pointed toward him, even dental x-ray cameras, plus he’s too well-connected to sweat reelection. However, the 2016 elections taught me to be very vigilant if there’s a woman in a position of influence and power and there’s even the vaguest possibility some schmuck who has nothing going for him except a penis and an ego might want to take her out. Even here in the liberal stronghold of New York it’s not paranoid to be cautious and prepared. Not after Trump. Nuh uh. So along with my endorsement and money if Senator Gillibrand’s campaign needs door-to-door hucksters or phone monkeys or envelope stuffers I am so there. But that’s for later, what could I do NOW?

I finally hit on it.

bee garden

A bee meadow. Sanctuary. A place for bees to be.

It will take a few years to bring it to full bloom. But even this year I can make a grand start. To that end I have researched what kinds of flowers I need to encourage and what other helps I can put in the bees’ haven.

bee-waterer-e1461356989282

That is a bee waterer. Bees can and do drink at bird baths but it’s a risky thing. They are often knocked in and drown or chased away by aggressive birds. A small shallow dish filled with marbles or rocks that provide the bees with a sturdy landing place and the water isn’t too deep makes for an ideal bee water station. I’ve got my dishes picked out, a couple even fit in the crooks of trees, and plenty of rocks and marbles. I am looking forward to making filling the bee water one of the things I do before work. Could anything be nicer? Out in the morning with my watering can walking the paths and just being with my friends the trees, seeing the flowers come up, and hopefully as the season progresses seeing the bees doing their thing?

This I can do.

I’ve looked into getting a bee box. Not for the honey, though I wouldn’t mind making a wax harvest once a year or so (who doesn’t love beeswax candles?), the bee box would be for the bees to live in relatively unmolested. But I think to be a decent host to a new colony of bees I’d best have their food source doing well first.

So. A bee place.

Mick has his part of the lawn downhill over the leach field and along the street-edge property line. I think traditional lawns are gross. Big, toxic dumps of fertilizers, insect poisons, and weed killers (thanks, Monsanto!) meticulously groomed by ugly noisy polluting machines run mostly by undocumented workers being ripped off by bosses who pay below minimum wage and dare their easily deported workers to call someone and complain. Feh on lawns.

But, y’all know Mick. The man thrives on tidiness. So I bought him a rechargeable electric mower and let him go nuts on the crab-grassy parts of the lawn visible from the road. But up the hill, beneath and between the trees, and in the wild places where feral grapes grow and the not-forgotten but definitely neglected botanical crossbreeds originally bred by Marie my house’s first occupant have gone amok, that part of the yard is mine. I do not say ‘lawn’. This is the yard. A 2+ acre parcel where thousands of daffodils run riot, where hybrid trees produce hearty nuts and fruits once thought they might be of use to the War Department, a place where clover and hen grass and Job’s tears and lilacs can knock you down with olfactory joy. And this year I am extending the springtime bacchanalia into summer and even fall with the planting of more flowers, and more, and then some more.

One of my literary crushes Cynthia Heimel pointed out in her turn as the fictitious Answer Lady, NOBODY can fix everything but everybody can fix SOMETHING. It’s true! She chose to rescue a particular breed of dog. I am offering up a place for bees.

Will my bee sanctuary solve everything? Tsk! Of course not. But it’s something. My bee place under the once-disciplined-now-wild-and-relaxed trees is MY stand. My own, small (perhaps ultimately dopey and futile) way to give back. I am making the effort to do A Thing.

Maybe that’s all any of us can do.

Go. Say hello to your neighbor. Sign a petition. Donate money/clothes/time/expertise. Smile. Run for office. Give a homeless person a lunch. Adopt a stray- feline, canine, human, it matters not. Water some bees. Plant some trees. Help somebody pass a test.

I believe in you. I know every single person who reads this blog post can Do A Thing.

If not for those you help, then do it for you. Do it as a bulwark against the rising darkness. Spit in the eye of those who (wearily/gleefully) claim decency lost. Think of Randy Quaid in ‘Independence Day’.

 

Sometimes that’s all there is.

 

 

Sometimes the Germans bomb Pearl Harbor.

 

But we can ALL do A Thing.

Really.

 

Find yours and get back to me. Much love, ~LA